Queen Elizabeth's life with Prince Philip at her side

The royal couple shared more than 70 years of marriage

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Queen Elizabeth II's love for her late husband Prince Philip spanned the decades and her marriage became the longest of any British monarch.

Her death on Thursday, aged 96, came almost 18 months after the death of her beloved partner, the Duke of Edinburgh. During that period her health deteriorated, she reduced her public engagements and she frequently retreated for longer periods to her homes at Sandringham, Windsor and Balmoral, rather than her official residence at Buckingham Palace.

The image of the queen sitting alone at Prince Philip's funeral because of Covid-enforced restrictions summed up her devotion to duty ― sticking to the rules ― and to her husband.

The pair first met when she was a seven-year-old bridesmaid at the wedding of her aunt, Princess Marina of Greece and Denmark. Prince Philip, then 12, was the bride's first cousin.

She went downhill after the Duke of Edinburgh died. They were like two swans
John Loughrey

Although the pair did not converse, speculation was already mounting that he could be a future suitor for the young princess.

It was five years later in 1939 when 13-year-old Elizabeth properly met Prince Philip.

He joined the British Royal Navy in 1939 at age 18, eventually becoming one of the youngest first lieutenants at 21.

As the world was on a knife's edge with the onset of the Second World War, the pair began to exchange correspondence.

After the courtship became a betrothal, King George VI, the future queen's father, granted the pair permission to wed after the war, once she was 21.

Before the announcement of their engagement, in 1947, Prince Philip renounced his Greek and Danish royal titles, became a British citizen and adopted his maternal grandparents’ surname, Mountbatten.

The king then bestowed on him the title of Duke of Edinburgh before his wedding on November 20, 1947.

UK's Prince Philip dies aged 99

UK's Prince Philip dies aged 99

Ten years later, he was formally made a British prince.

The couple had four children together: Prince Charles, Princess Anne, Prince Andrew and Prince Edward.

In 1952, only five years after their marriage, Queen Elizabeth ascended the throne.

Her marriage was the longest of any British monarch and, in 2017, the couple celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary.

Prince Philip threw himself into the role of royal consort and, in 1956, he founded the Duke of Edinburgh Award programme to encourage young people to help their communities.

Over the decades, he became the patron, president or member of almost 800 charities and organisations, many of which reflected his interests, including conservation, sport, the military and engineering.

He continued to be associated with the groups until his death but during the last few years of his life, he no longer played an active role in attending engagements.

After a string of short illnesses and hospital stays, he made the decision to step down from public duties in May 2017.

At his final official public engagement, he met the Royal Marines.

After his death, the UK's former prime minister Theresa May thanked him for a “remarkable lifetime of service” in which he undertook more than 22,200 solo engagements.

He died on April 9, 2021.

The queen remained in royal mourning for the man who affectionately called her “Cabbage” until April 22 and at his socially distanced funeral at St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle, she was pictured sitting stoically alone.

The monarch used her 95th birthday, which took place 12 days after Prince Philip died, to thank well-wishers for their tributes and said her family was in a “period of great sadness”.

On the anniversary of his death earlier this year, she posted a touching poem by Simon Armitage alongside a moving video montage of moments of their life together, including the birth of their children and their wedding day.

She died at Balmoral Castle surrounded by her children and grandchildren.

Speaking hours after her death, John Loughrey, 67, wept outside central London's Buckingham Palace gates and paid tribute to the queen.

"I met the Queen twice," he said. "She was inspirational. She served her duty. Her duty always came first, her family next.

"She went downhill after the Duke of Edinburgh died. They were like two swans."

Updated: June 21, 2023, 8:07 AM